This nursery closure is about impact on the lives of our children. Read how it will change their lives…
Deirdre, Ben and Hana – Community family
Like many families in Cambridge, we moved here from elsewhere and have loved the opportunities we’ve had here and the friends and community we’ve found. In most respects it’s a great place to raise children.
Both my husband and I have full time jobs. Ben spends a lot of the week in London and we both have to regularly travel abroad. Having somewhere for Hana close by so that we can manage to get to and from work every day in good time was our first consideration – not least because I have a spinal injury which means I can’t cycle so anywhere further afield would make life very complicated. Before we moved Hana to ARU nursery she was in 3 other childcare situations, all of which were very difficult for me to get to.
At ARU nursery, we have wonderful partners in raising our daughter. So many of the children nearby have been to the nursery at some point that the staff are well known to be welcoming and warm. There is an atmosphere of stability and trust and because they are on a university campus, far away from the roads, their outdoor spaces are not overlooked or polluted by passing traffic. Staff and parents form a real community, one which is very necessary for those of us who have no other support network in town.
Hana loves ARU nursery. She speaks very fondly of the staff and the other children. Her last nursery was ok and she was happy enough, but when I took her for her first day at ARU, she didn’t look back and she’s been happy ever since.
Hana goes to ARU every day, so if the nursery closes she will lose all her trusted adults and familiar friends in one go. The last times we were forced to move her, she was too young to remember, but not this time. She will fully feel the disruption and the loss. As parents we are trying to coordinate so that our children still see each other at least some days but our choices are very limited.
I am devastated that the nursery is closing. Just over a year ago we had a period two months when we were not able to get any form of childcare and it was the most stressful time of my life. This was a direct result of the childcare situation in Cambridge. We used up all our annual leave, took emergency leave and were still working in the evenings to make up for it. Hana lost all her confidence because there was no continuity or predictability in her days, and because there was a lot of stress in the house. It will mean that we’ll have to travel further to childcare, which will make life an even greater logistical challenge than it already is and I will miss the families and staff we have bonded with as well.
If we can’t find another nursery place, either Ben or myself will have to give up work. End of story.
To the Vice Chancellor & management at ARU I say this; its irresponsible to close the nursery at all, never mind at such short notice. These are children not unused books. We can’t just store them in a box somewhere until a more convenient location becomes available. A nursery is not just a container for children during the day. It is a place where they flourish, form relationships, learn about themselves and about friendship. Consistency and trust is key and all these things will be broken if the nursery, the staff and the community that has grown around it are taken away.
To the Anglia Ruskin student I’d say this; of the total number of students currently studying at the university, only a handful use the nursery. What proportion of students use the wheelchair ramps? These services are not set up to serve the many. They are to provide access for those who need it, no matter how few they are. Sofas for everyone do not outweigh opportunity for those who would otherwise have to go without.
It is sad that community parents have filled the available spaces at the nursery for so long, paying full fees and therefore reducing the cost of the university subsidy overall, only to be kicked out in the end as though we had been freeloading on university generosity all this time. This is not right. Just like closing the nursery.
Una, Matthew and Verity (staff parents)
I am a member of staff at Anglia Ruskin University. My partner Matthew runs his own business, based in south London. We have lived in Cambridge for 25 years, having come here originally as students. I have been lecturer in creative writing at ARU since 2011.
Our daughter Verity was born in November 2013, and has been attending the nursery two days a week since she was 9 months old. She is now two years old and progressing into the toddler room in January 2016.
We decided on a nursery for Verity because she is an only child, and we wanted her to have regular social contact with peers in a structured setting. Given that I work at Anglia Ruskin, the nursery there was our first choice, and I was proud to work for an organisation that understood the particular pressures put on working mothers, and the need for working mothers to have support during these crucial few years when their children are very small.
We knew the second that we walked into this nursery that it was the right place for Verity. We were bowled over by the sense of warmth and friendliness which enveloped us when we walked through the door. The sense of being part of a very special community has continued through Verity’s time here. We have watched her come on in leaps and bounds under the gentle, playful, funny, and dedicated care of the wonderful nursery staff. Verity loves all her friends, big and small. Verity and I have also enjoyed supporting student learning by allowing ARU students into our home to conduct parent-child observations for their studies.
It is of course ideal to have Verity so close – only five minutes’ walk from my desk. It has meant, for example, that when she has been ill and I have had to leave work, I have had time to put plans in place for students in terms of getting classes covered at short notice. If I had to travel some distance to collect Verity, this would not be as easy to achieve, and my students would suffer directly.
The news of the closure has been a devastating blow for us. Many nurseries do not provide services for under-threes, so Verity will probably be without a place until January – even if we were lucky enough to find one available by then: provision in Cambridge is, to quote the County Council, “at capacity”. Our little family is facing a period of great uncertainty. I have had to question whether I can continue to work at ARU.
It is heart-breaking to think that this wonderful community will be closed down within months to make room for… what? Spaces such as these are precious. They will never serve a majority of people, but the difference that they make for those who use them is vast. Anglia Ruskin should be proud of its nursery provision, and work with students, staff, and local parents to keep this very special place open.
Daisy, Jason and Bridie (student parents)
Jason and I have lived in Cambridge together for a year and a half. Jason absolutely loves living in Cambridge due to the cycling, the city and the people. When we had our daughter, Jason was desperate for me to come back to University as I wanted to train to become a teacher, this is what led me to Anglia Ruskin University and the Nursery. Jason has been on long term sickness since April 2015, and we don’t have any family around us to help with childcare.
We picked the ARU Nursery because, from the first time we set foot in the building, all of the children were happy, we were made to feel more than welcome and Bridie loved playing with the other children instantly. We also chose this Nursery because of all of the wonderful things we had heard about it, and of course, ultimately we chose it because I was to be studying on site, so it made perfect sense to have our daughter close by. It is the perfect environment for our little girl.
Bridie has come on leaps and bounds since starting at the ARU Nursery. She is now taking her first steps, babbling along all day and is so happy at the Nursery. She is always so excited when we come into the Nursery grounds in the morning.
This closure is disastrous for our daughter, she has developed so much in such a short amount of time which is all down to the brilliant staff and environment that surrounds her at Nursery. It would be such a shame for her to lose people she loves to spend her day with.
For me it means I’ll simply have to leave University. That’s my only choice.
I would say to the Vice Chancellor & management at ARU – reconsider and just stop and think about what they are doing. I don’t feel that I am supported at this University at all, despite the vague and relatively useless words from the University body. I don’t see why you would take away such a fantastically successful environment, all for a student lounge.
I am a student here, and I have simply been forgotten and left behind because I am a ‘minority’ in their eyes.
To my fellow students, I’d like to say – make your own decisions, use your critical thinking that we are supposed to use in this academic environment and think what this might actually entail for all students at some point.
Paloma, Trevor & Abril
We are a Spanish/Australian couple with a working class background. We came to Cambridge because after years of very hard work we were offered academic position at the University of Cambridge. The fact that Cambridge is a safe and culturally vibrant city also influenced our decision, especially so since I was pregnant at the time.
We had just arrived in Cambridge: no family and no friends. After our visit and interaction with the nursery staff members, we were certain that we could leave our then 5 month old baby under their care full time and have peace of mind knowing that our daughter would be looked after with the same love and care that we put in. We were so relieved and thankful when we heard that we finally got a place in this nursery.
It is difficult to describe what is special about the nursery in a few words, because this is truly a unique and wonderful place. The staff are extremely caring and prepared. They always have plenty of smiles and hugs for the kids. Their level of patience and care is unparalleled. The building works very well, too. The rooms are full of light and very well prepared with toys/equipment. The location is also key (No other nursery serves this area).
Our daughter Abril absolutely loves going to nursery. She has extremely tight bonds with carers and with other kids and is always happy when we drop her and pick her up. Our daughter is an extremely fussy eater, but it was at nursery where she started eating whole foods. She always runs into the junior room to greet the staff with a hug, in what is affectionately known as the “rugby tackle”. It is so wonderful to see how much she loves her carers at ARU nursey. They have truly become her extended family.
As she attends the nursery full time, Abril will lose all of her social network in one go. She won’t get to see those staff that have also cared for her since she was a few months (her “adoptive family”!). She won’t be able to see her friends, since we will have to attend nursery in another Cambridge area. She is not 2 yet, but she will have her whole world shaken up and turned upside down completely.
In social and support terms, this nursery is all we have In Cambridge! We work so hard that the only people that we know in Cambridge are families from the nursery. Hence, our complete social network will also be destroyed. If we can find a nursery place somewhere else, it will affect our work performance, as we won’t be able to get to University on time. The closure would leave all three of us again completely on our own.
Professionally, the closure would be absolutely disastrous for us. One of us will have to take work leave which would create huge financial strain and make it hard, if not impossible, to make the rent each month. It will also create a professional struggle as we have students who depend on us, and research goals that need to be fulfilled.
I’d like to say this to Professor Thorne, VC of ARU; Please! Listen to how you are affecting the families in the nursery and those of the generations to come. Respond to our emails and questions, and engage with us in a dialogue. We want the best for ARU as much as you do. Please consider and implement the policy changes that would allow the nursery to stay open.
To the students of ARU, I’d like to say: Please continue fighting to keep the nursery open and we will, as community parents, stand together to support you. Public education should be inclusive for all minority groups including studying and working parents.
Sinead, one of our student parents:
I’m originally from Dublin, Southern Ireland and have been here in Cambridge for over 5 years now, having come here to go to University but had to drop out after the 1st year due to personal reasons.
After having my daughter I decided that I wanted to get a good career and make a better life for my daughter by going back to university. I love Cambridge and ARU so having to think about leaving due to the closure of the Nursery after all the hard work I have put in over the past few years is unthinkable.
When I started at ARU I was very nervous of leaving Skylar with anyone because she was so young, but after a few weeks of going to the onsite nursery I could see that they are amazing at their job and look after the kids as if they were their own. As a parent, there is no substitute for being so close to her throughout the day, and I’m usually a maximum of 5 minutes away from her if she is sick or the nursery needs to contact me.
The level of care is unbelievable. I have never seen a nursery show as much care to the children they look after – all nurseries are not the same, whatever OFSTEAD says. Every day she comes home with something new that she has learnt and is happy and is excited to go every morning.
If this closure goes ahead I will have to leave ARU as I don’t have anyone to look after my little one as my partner works full time. I will have put 2 years of my time into this course so I will be devastated if I have to leave. All I want is to further my career options and make a better life for my family but it seems ARU student services don’t think it’s a good enough reason to keep the nursery open.